The 2017 Dakar Rally continues to barrel across the diverse topography of South America and the geographical richness of Argentina. After two weeks and over 8000km the chequered flag is creeping into sight. For Yamaha’s Adrien Van Beveren – a rider in just his second attempt at the Dakar and who celebrated his 26th birthday in the midst of the gruelling distances and damp weather through the Bolivian stint – a remarkable podium finish is tantalisingly close.
The Frenchman lies fourth after holding third place for a significant stretch of the Rally and through the period of two disruptive stage cancellations as the poor climate wrecked minor havoc on the trajectory of the Dakar. ‘AVB’ took his Yamaha to seventeenth position in the tenth chapter of twelve yesterday that involved technical and difficult conditions in the 450km charge from Chilecito to San Juan. “Now, two hours after the stage, I can speak because today was really hard for me,” he admitted somewhat dejectedly but still managing to hold a customary smile. “I decided in the morning that I would push to ride fast and maintain my podium position but it was a bad tactic and I lost some time with navigation. Anyway, I’ll do my best tomorrow to try and get back in contention.”
Entering the 2017 edition of the race with the sole aim to accrue more experience Van Beveren is agonisingly within grasp of a fantastic trophy and one that his consistent, level-headed and determined approach deserves. He now has the penultimate stage and 290km to try and gain three minutes back over Gerard Farres before the drop down into the Argentina capital and a heroes welcome for the remnants of the motorcycle field that have endured the journey so far.
One rider hoping for a late upset is Monster Energy Honda Team’s Joan Barreda. The Spaniard claimed victory in Stage 10 for his second win in a row and third of the competition. The feat dragged the 33 year old up to fifth overall in the standings and just fifteen minutes from sight of the podium after languishing outside the top ten at one stage and with little hope of making a major imprint on the 39th edition of this famous race. The blast to Rio Cuarto will be a tense one.